Aircraft Recognition No. 3, Vol. 1

Aircraft R e cog nit ion Nov ember ,1942 OWing THE HIGH, the middle and the low ”—those temporal powers once boasted by feudal lords now continue in the work of aircraft designers the World over. In fact, one of the most prominent features of an aeroplane from the military, aerodynamic and recog­nition aspects is the relation of the wings to the fuselage. And it can vary from right above—as in the Henschel Hs 126 to right below as in the Blohm & Voss Bv 142 Naturally there is a reason for all this for the varying positions of the wings and a glance at some of these reasons is perhaps an aid to memory—in aircraft recog­nition as in everything else of a similar analytical character it is not enough to know that such-and-such a thing is so what is wanted also is why it is so. One day we may reach the ideal of all wing and no fuselage—or, conversely, as some people argue, all fuselage and no wing. But until those extremes happen the junction between wing and fuselage is a necessary evil—an evil because, fillet it as you will, there is always an interference effect by which the combined drag of the two is increased by the air burbles at their junction. The mid wing causes the least drag, the high wing the greatest lift, the low wing the most economical structure. But the position of the wing is selected for many other reasons as well by the modern designer—although, being mortal, his final decision is often influenced subcon­sciously by the fashion of the moment. Bomb stowage, good view, undercarriage retraction, stability, all play their part in dictating whether the wing shall go up or down on the body. And so perhaps requirements rather than fashion may have influenced the change in wing position during the Position past twenty years. In the middle 1920s the fashion was for the high wing—a fashion led by Anthony Fokker and followed by Ford, Farman, Avro, Savoia and Lockheed, to pick abut few. The reason for this height in fashion was because passengers required an unob­structed view and the high wing provided a convenient place under which to hang the engines and fixed under­carriage of those days. Then, in the early 1930s, wings went down with a bump. The change started with the Boeing 247d and was followed as the leaders of fashion by the Douglas DC-1, DC-2 and DC-3. This time the reason was chiefly the cleaning up of design and the arrival of the retractable undercarriage and of the motors mounted directly on the wings. The low wing made possible a neat little short-legged under­carriage which would go nicely into the nacelle. The wing could be carried con­veniently under the fuselage without interfering with the space for passengers and, with the wheels half protruding, a safe “belly landing ”could be made if the under­carriage jammed up. People were rather scared of retractable undercarriages in those days. The demand for higher speeds increased. Wings began togo up again—at first, as in the Lockheed 14 which led the new fashion—chiefly to reduce the drag and, with the higher loadings now arriving, to give clearance to the huge drooping Fowler flaps which, in a low wing design, would have touched the ground when extended. But this was also the age of military expansion. New bombers were being designed and bomb stowage was the most pressing problem of the day. And so the wings went up to the mid position. By this means long and deep bomb compartments could be provided beneath the wing spars from which the bomb-suspension beams had to be hung. In addition, above the awing passageway could be provided for the crew and, in the mid-position, even with the bomb doors open, the undercarriage legs did not have to be too high to give ground clearance. At least, that was true until the Stirling arrived, and the Stirling had such huge Gouge“ flying-boat type ”flaps that an immensely stalky undercarriage had to be pro­vided to prevent the flaps touching the ground. Military reasons alone prevented the Stirling from being a high wing design—the bomb beams had to be attached to the spars and space for the crew provided above them. So mid wing it had to be. 4
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